My 20-month-old son Kyle is at that interesting stage of developing a sense of humour.
This week he told me, “I want milk.”
“You want milk?” I asked, just to make sure.
“Roll on, though deep and dark blue Ocean, roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin, his control
Stops with the shore…”
Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.
For tens of thousands of years humankind has changed and adapted the land to suit its needs. Native Americans used fire to create savannahs and to diversify their habitat to facilitate hunting and gathering, as did Australian Aboriginals. Ancient agriculturists cleared great forests by axe and by fire. In Lord Byron’s time the Industrial Revolution was in full swing; population and wealth increased as never before—exponentially.
Exponential growth requires exponential use of resources: metals; fossil fuels; land; food. When Lord Byron wrote that man’s dominion over earth stopped by the shore, there were one billion people. Yet man had already encroached on the sea, hunted the Atlantic grey whale to extinction, depleted fish stocks close to land and destroyed the seafloor with trawlers.
There are now seven billion people and seven billion three hundred million cell phones; one billion cars; two billion computers; one billion four hundred million televisions—425,000 of those are in T&T; twelve billion light bulbs.